Ever wonder why Israel is located in a region which seems so strange and alien to it.  Ever wonder if things would be different if Israel were transplanted to a more peaceful, less volatile, less alien region.  Maybe if Israel was located in North America or Australia, or even in the Far East,  it might be the richest country in the world and might even be listed as the number one location on the globe in terms of quality of life.  Yet, even if we ignore the religious considerations of Israel’s location, the inherent holiness of the land or other considerations, there is something very instructive about the geography of the Jewish state.

The Bible charges the Jewish people with the mission of being a holy nation, and the prophets prophesized of the spiritual and ethical influence that the Jews will have on the nations of the world.  Preceding this charge were God’s introductory words to Abraham that “through you all the families of the world will be blessed.”  Cultural, spiritual and ethical influence is usually achieved via economic interactions.  The foundation for economic relationships between states is trade or services that can be offered.    As commerce increases between countries, the greater the opportunity for spiritual and cultural impact.  If a country has nothing to offer economically, rarely will other states take notice of it.  Thus, if Israel, according to the prophets, is supposed to influence others with their ethics and values, this will be engendered through economic interactions.  While the prophets prophesized about the result, they did not specify its manifestation.

Israel finds itself surrounded by many nations who are lacking in many areas of basic development.  The nations surrounding Israel in its current location – Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Yemen, Egypt – all are in dire need of basic help to improve their country’s infrastructure.  Drawing a larger circle around Israel one finds countries like Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, and even Afghanistan & Pakistan;  countries that also could greatly benefit from Israel’s help.   We thus see that the countries that are in the closest proximity to Israel have the greatest opportunity to gain from the plethora of basic technologies that Israel can provide.  Furthermore, these technologies are geared for the type of climates which Israel shares with its neighbors, such as innovations in agriculture, water conservation, desalination, and medicine, to name but a few.  These countries need not look far for solutions to many of their basic problems – they lie with their neighbor.

More distant from Israel’s borders are countries whose basic infrastructures are in place, who benefit from Israel’s technology and know-how in a different way.  The countries of Western Europe, the US, Canada, Japan, China, Australia, do not need Israel for basic projects.  They do not need Israel to assist them in constructing airplanes, boats, tanks, electricity systems.  Yet Israel assists these countries with its engineering, science and computer ingenuity.  Israeli companies provide advanced technology, such as software that improves operational capability of a pilot’s helmet, highly sophisticated radar systems, improved pipeline construction methods that reduce leakage, or electric powered vehicles.  Israel’s technological capabilities are courted worldwide and even the most advance countries benefit from Jewish know-how.

Truly, one can clearly see that Israel is located precisely where its abilities and resources are needed most, nearest to the countries who need Israel’s help the most.  The major bastions of modernity, with much lesser needs, are farther distanced from Israel.  Providence has placed Israel where the nations that surround it need only change their attitude in order to benefit from its technology and ingenuity; simultaneously, the doors of cultural, spiritual and ethical influence will fly open.  As economic relations between Israel and the countries of the world increase, so will Israel’s cultural influence.  As the prophet Isaiah writes: “distant islands will yearn for God.”  Perhaps, the prophecy is ready to be fulfilled through economic relations.